My husband and I just returned from cruising on the Carnival Freedom. Prior to cruising on the Freedom we had cruised on Royal Caribbeans' Freedom of the Seas which was also lovely but honestly; I think we enjoy Carnival more. This was our 2nd cruise with Carnival. We enjoyed having a balcony and would recommend it. In our experience; the food offered on Carnival actually tastes better and we liked the choices more. The breakfast buffet is basically the same every day but lots of variety and everything was hot; never cold in our experience. Powdered eggs? If that's true; we'd never know it! The only thing I would have enjoyed seeing on the breakfast buffet would be cheese blintzes. The strawberry & blueberry compotes were already there. Would recommend enjoying breakfast in the formal dining room as well where you would be seated with others. Once the table is full (which doesn't take long at all); the waiter will take everyone's order. Service there was prompt and elegant; not slow. Wait staff was consistently above average - and very pleasant. They work very hard and should be appreciated. We enjoyed the lunch buffet daily where the choice and variety was plentiful and different each day. We never felt the quality was compromised - real mashed potatoes, etc. My husband especially enjoyed the Bouillabaisse (seafood stew) upstairs where the Fish n' Chips are served; which were excellent as well. Carnival's chocolate chip cookies are the best I've ever had. Wish we could get them via mail order - or the recipe! The Lido deck indoor buffet is divided up into 4 duplicated cafeteria style stations where huge plates are provided; guests are not at all discouraged from indulging by being given little plates! Also a deli window, pizza place, hot dog/hamburger grill, mongolian grill, etc. Some people have complained about long lines for the buffet but we didn't experience issues with that to the point of it being bothersome. We enjoyed dinner in the formal dining room. However; upon arriving the first night we were seated alone which was disappointing because we enjoy being seated with others. No problem - we spoke to the hostess and she re-assigned us to another table with other people for the remaining 5 nights. Dinner menu was top notch - lobster/prime rib one night; every night offering great selections like shrimp, crab cakes, seafood, chicken, steaks. Royal Caribbean does not offer lobster unless you pay for it in their specialty dining restaurants. We enjoyed Chateaubriand one night - beef tenderloin; best we've ever had! On the final day of the cruise during lunch; a "Chocolate Dessert Buffet" was featured - which was truly "over the top"! We are amazed at how the crew can turn out so much food (good food) so continually!
Activities - varied music venues - something for everyone. We liked "Groovy Music with Larry". He's an amazing guitarist. Also liked the Latin band and the "Rock n' Roll" band. Enjoyed dancing at the night club too. Comedy shows were very funny and production show - "Ticket to Ride" was excellent; high energy. My husband liked watching football in the sports bar. Interestingly enough; domestic beers cost more than imported ones so we stuck with the imports. Enjoyed "drink of the day" daily and didn't have to pay for the souvenier glass since they aren't served in one unless you request it.
Weather was great and ports of call were memorable. We did the Pub Crawl at Key West and would recommend if you like to have fun with other people. Seven Mile Beach at Grand Cayman was the most beautiful beach we have ever been to -crystal clear water resembling a swimming pool. We took a taxi there for $5 each way per person - well worth it; self arranged. We went to the public beach where "Calico Jack's" is located - good place for a drink in the shade. Dunn's River Falls at Ocho Rios, Jamaica was a "must do". Would recommend taking the excursion featuring the "Cool Runnings" catamaran & Dunns River Falls; great fun on the boat to and from the falls with all you'd want rum punch and $3 Red Stripe beer. Enjoyed the waterslide, pools and hot tubs. Hot tubs are hotter up on the Serenity Deck and in the adult pool area located on each end of ship. If you'd prefer not to cruise with lots of families with kids; we would sugget avoiding summertime and holiday bookings like we did. Most guests on our cruise were adults (very few children) and seems everyone was pleasant; just wanting to enjoy themselves. Honestly; we really can't think of much to complain about. The only negative was disembarking took longer than we would have liked but that was due to the line in Customs and rainy weather which slowed down the process. If we had done self-assist; we could have gotten off earlier but we did not choose that option.
Our cabin was very clean and our cabin steward was attentive. We had to request an ice bucket with ice as we're not sure that is automatically provided any longer. Large bottled water can be purchased in the room for just $3.95 which was convenient since it's not recommended to drink from the tap on ships and it's a hassle to carry filled glasses of water back to the room. One area for improvement in our opinion would be mattess replacement. Although we slept O.K., the mattress sagged and it was slightly harder than we'd prefer. All in all; a fun, memorable vacation. Can't wait to cruise again with Carnival - next ship being "the Dream"!